My Number 1

“Listen up. You can only protect others after you protect yourself.”

If bingeing on Korean dramas is a sin, I am for sure going straight to hell. Right now, the hell is in sleeping at 2 A.M. everyday.

The quote is from Legend of the Blue Seas. At least it has saved me from thinking too much about what to write today.

Who is the Number 1 person in my life? Is it from family? Is it one of my friends? I think my answer evolved over the years. In my childhood, it could have been my mother. She was the enabler to my dreams. She still is. In my teens, this would probably change according to the current crush. I had so many, they could start a club. In my 20s, probably still the current crush. In my 30s, the crushing slowed but the heartbreaks became more intense. Still, I would have chosen whoever was the object of my affection at that time. If I had a husband or boyfriend now, it would probably be him.

I turned 40 this year and I have yet to meet The One. But one thing is crystal clear. My Number 1 person now is Me. The saying “Life begins at 40” may have truth to it after all. It doesn’t happen suddenly. You are prepared for it. You don’t realize it until you get there. Once you do get there, you recognize it in an instant. At least in my case I did.

Describe me. I’m an introvert. I like alone time too much. I am okay with solo trips, solo drive, watching movies or eating out by myself. I don’t get self-conscious about it. I like my independence and owning my time. My language of love is quality time. This means I also like being around other people. I like meeting up with friends for coffee or dinner. My first love is travel. I can’t wait to restart my wanderlust once borders start opening up. I love gemstones, I am thinking of putting up a jewelry business in the future. I like them so much that I actually traveled to Japan once so I can check out one of the biggest jewelry exhibitions there. I am or was kind of a control freak, still short-tempered and a ruminator. I used to not take rejection well, but somehow that doesn’t bother me anymore now.

In the last two years, I feel like I have’t been myself. I’ve been questioning my career choices and I have lost interest in the rat race. I know how competitive I can be, but now, I am just not interested anymore.

Thanks to this tragic year, entering a new decade was more meaningful. I had to celebrate alone since Manila was in lockdown. But that did not stop me from having a solo party and really, really having a blast. That made me realize that I am fine with being single, even for the rest of my life. I don’t feel like I lack anything. In fact, I have everything I could ever want. I have everything I need.

After fifteen years in the corporate world, I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not define success as climbing the ladder until I become the CEO of a multinational company. Success to me now means contentment. It means saying no if it will break my peace of mind. It means setting stronger boundaries on what I allow into my life. Funny, I used to think a lot about why others do what they do. Now, when this thought comes, I just let it go. It’s not about me, isn’t it? We all come into this world ready for a fight. But our biggest fight is really with ourselves.

Somehow, I get what Heo Joon-jae is saying about protecting oneself first. Right now I have one foot in the stable and predictable, the other ready to flee into the uncertain. I just need the trigger to be able to choose which world I step into.

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